The 2014 World Cup's intensity and drama continue to grow with the advancement of each team to the knockout stages of the tournament.
On Tuesday, we saw four more teams move past the group stage following some stunning action.
Colombia defeated Japan handily by a score of 4-1 to earn the top spot in Group C. The undefeated Colombians dismantled their group, scoring nine times while only allowing two goals during group play.
In a tight race for second were Greece and the Ivory Coast.
Greece needed a win to advance while the Ivory Coast simply needed a draw. It certainly looked to be playing out in the Ivory Coast's favor until a late penalty kick from Georgios Samaras in extra time found the back of the net to propel Greece to a 2-1 victory.
His strike made some World Cup history, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
Of the two Group D matches on Tuesday, only one total goal was scored.
That came from Uruguay's Diego Godin in the 81st minute against Italy. This significant goal allowed Uruguay to leapfrog the Italians and advance into the knockout rounds.
Finishing in first was Costa Rica after a 0-0 draw against the surprisingly winless England.
If Day 13 of the World Cup gives any indication to what we can expect on Wednesday, we're certainly in for a treat.
Here's how to watch all of the Day 14 action with some predictions for each match.
|2014 World Cup: Day 14 Schedule and Predictions|
|Time (ET)||Fixture||Group||TV Info||Prediction|
|12 p.m.||Nigeria vs. Argentina||F||ESPN||1-0, Argentina|
|12 p.m.||Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Iran||F||ESPN2||1-0, Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|4 p.m.||Honduras vs. Switzerland||E||ESPN2||2-1, Switzerland|
|4 p.m.||Ecuador vs. France||E||ESPN||3-1, France|
|FIFA.com/Sean O'Donnell's Predictions|
Nigeria vs. Argentina
Argentina may have already secured a spot in the knockout stages; however, it will still be looking for either a win or a draw to secure the top spot and play the runner-up of Group E. Nigeria is in good shape, although it has yet to clinch its spot in the next round.
Vincent Enyeama looked great against Bosnia and Herzegovina, and he will need to be in top form against the surging Lionel Messi and Co.
Even though Enyeama has yet to allow a goal this World Cup, Messi and fellow forward Sergio Aguero are a powerful duo and should find a way through the Super Eagles defense.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has only scored one goal in two games. That lack of offense won't allow the team to prevail against a defensively savvy Argentinian team.
Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Iran
Even though Iran has yet to score a goal in this World Cup, it is still in contention to advance with a victory against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday.
Iran has been maintaining a defensive game plan thus far, which has led the team to a 0-0 draw against Nigeria and a 1-0 loss to Argentina thanks to Messi's brilliant strike.
As New York Cosmos assistant coach Alecko Eskandarian points out, Iran has been playing to its own strengths:
That will have to change against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As Iran knows it needs a victory to move on, it will have to get away from its defensive approach. This will allow players like Edin Dzeko to swoop in and take advantage, giving Bosnia and Herzegovina a close victory.
Honduras vs. Switzerland
Neither one of these teams has been very defensively sound over its first two World Cup contests. Coming into this match, Honduras and Switzerland have combined to give up 11 goals.
The difference here is the Swiss have been able to generate some sort of offense as well.
Honduras manager Luis Suarez insisted his team will continue to compete during a press conference, via Andrew Wychrij of Goal.com: "It's worth Honduras continuing to fight. What we have not lost is the will to fight. The good things we did give us confidence."
That may be so, but against a Swiss team comprised of talented young players such as Granit Xhaka, you can expect Honduras to give up a couple more goals.
Honduras won't be blanked again, though, as Swiss defender Steve von Bergen has been ruled out of the remaining World Cup contests after suffering a brutal injury against France.
Ecuador vs. France
France has simply looked dominant to this point in the World Cup after cruising to two easy victories.
In fact, according to ESPN Stats & Info, France's scoring bonanza puts this year's team in some elite company:
Yes, France's offense has simply been explosive thus far; however, a crucial injury to Mamadou Sakho left the defender's status in doubt for Wednesday's match. Should Sakho miss the game, that could open the window for Golden Boot contender Enner Valencia.
Still, it's the French offense that will prevail. With the likes of Karim Benzema on the pitch, it's unlikely the team scores any less than a couple goals. After all, just take a look at what Benzema's accomplished to this point, via Football Tweet:
Ecuador will put up a fight, but it just doesn't have the firepower to come away with a win.
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